Apr 10, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 143: Jerrod Bogard
Hometown: All over- I'm an Air Force brat.
Current Town: Astoria, New York City
Q: Tell me about the production of Noah's Arkansas you have coming up.
A: Noah's Arkansas is a piece of theatrical realism. It's the story of a blue collar guy in a small southern town who finds himself suddenly with a teenage son on his doorstep and his elderly father trying to sneak into his grave. It gets belly-laughs in spots, and it manages to jerk a few tears too. The talent on this project is amazing. What a strong ensemble! And the set is going to be spectacular from what I've seen so far. Wide Eyed Productions really does go above and beyond, and I'm so stoked that they're working on my play.
Q: What else are you up to?
A: Funny you should ask, I've got a new musical in the works. My composer, Sky Seals, and I are working on a very serious rock-musical about the War in Iraq. It's called GRUNTS. The first number from the show is going up this this weekend (April 8-11) at the Players Theatre Loft.
Q: You started out as a puppeteer. How does that color the way you write plays or how you see theater?
A: Love that question! I actually started as an actor, and then I came to puppetry, and then to playwrighting. But puppetry has had a major influence on my writing as well and directing. Puppet shows are usually the essence of simplicity when it comes to story, and that's a beautiful thing, because all stories, no matter how seemingly complex, should be very simple. Puppet theatre gave me that gift of "keeping it real." Also, it has completely freed me of any notion of the impossible. In puppetry- if you can dream it, you can do it, and most likely for less than $20.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: When I was 4-years old I would scribble circles and lines onto blank paper and show it to my mother. I'd say, "What does this say?" And my mother would glance and say, "that's says nothing, Jerrod." And I would get very upset at this. I'd cry, "I want it to say something!!!" And even though I've learned to write since then, I still find myself in the same mind set... I want it to say something!!!
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: The price tag. It's a crime that people can see five movies for the price of a partial-view seat to one live play. Theatre is a vital art- but at a luxury cost. Professional theatre should be affordable to the masses. A sense of entitlement from many and a maladjusted system of values in this country has caused American theatre to be an artistic money pit instead of what it could be- a national treasure.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Well told stories told well. I just saw Our Town at the Barrow Street Theatre. There's a masterpiece done masterfully.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Ha! I feel like I'M a playwright who's just starting out. But I can say this- if you surround yourself with people that you respect, people who you feel lucky to know and work with, then you'll be headed in the right direction. Treat those people well, and write for them. They'll return the favor.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: I'll be acting in Henry VI part 3 this July at the 13th Street Theatre, another production of Wide Eyed in conjunction with Columbia University. It's going to be amazing!